Finding common ground for farms and fish

Researchers from the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences and the California Trout conservation group study salmon growth in seasonally flooded rice fields in the Yolo Bypass near Woodland, Calif. Scientists are investigating whether the Central Valley's historical floodplains could be managed to help recover California's populations of Chinook salmon. (photo: Carson Jeffres/UC Davis)
Researchers from the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences and the California Trout conservation group study salmon growth in seasonally flooded rice fields in the Yolo Bypass near Woodland, Calif. Scientists are investigating whether the Central Valley's historical floodplains could be managed to help recover California's populations of Chinook salmon. (photo: Carson Jeffres/UC Davis)

Floodplain research project mimics natural systems for more efficient water use.

April 18, 2014
(from SF Gate)

Researchers from UC Davis flooded rice paddies on a 1,700-acre farm near Woodland to convert the fields into wetland fish habitat, much like the vast marshlands that once covered California’s inland valleys during the winter.

 

The three-year experiment has resulted in a dramatic increase in the size of migrating juvenile salmon every winter of the experiment, according to those working on the project. Migrating fish also had high survival rates.

“The idea that we can get the most benefit from every drop of water is what this project is all about,” said Jacob Katz, a UC Davis alumnus who is now a biologist and regional manager for the conservation organization CalTrout. “We are trying to create a system that mimics the natural system and allows for more efficient use of water all the way around. That synthesis is the future of California.”

The floodplain project was the first involving farmers, environmentalists, scientists, and state water resources officials working together to improve water resources and conservation. Eventually, fish-feeding grounds could be used throughout the 59,000 acres of agricultural land in the Yolo Bypass and Sacramento River delta systems.

(Read the full story by Peter Fimrite, published March 21, 2014 in SF Gate.)

Media contacts:

  • Jacob Katz, CalTrout Central California Region, 707-836-0769, jkatz@caltrout.org
  • Peter Moyle, Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology, UC Davis, 530-752-6355, pbmoyle@ucdavis.edu

College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, UC Davis, contact: